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San Jose City Councilmember Targets Neighborhood Bar Over Crime Complaints

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- A San Jose city councilman is looking at new enforcement actions against a neighborhood bar which neighbors claim is a magnet for criminal activity.

By day the El Tarasco bar is empty and quiet, but on weekend nights, neighbors say it's the scene of gang fights, assaults, prostitution and with people vomiting and urinating outside the premises.

"It's complete lawlessness," said neighbor Rick Mendez, who has shot video of many of the incidents. "It's been extremely difficult, we stay up till two in the morning every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. We have to call 911 multiple times per night."

City councilmember and mayoral candidate Sam Liccardo wants to use city codes and liquor license violations to shut down the bar that he says is wasting police resources.

"We have to take action, said Liccardo. "Either the landlord needs to evict him or else we need to shut the property down."

"We're spending too much police resources on one bar," he said. "We can be more efficient using code enforcement to shut 'em down."

Bar owner Uriel Barron disputed that his establishment is the source of the problems.

"I've never been raided by the police for selling drugs, or supposedly prostitution," said Barron. "Why don't they really dig into where the problem is?"

According to state Alcoholic Beverage Control records, an employee was caught selling meth in 2013, but no action against the bar was ever taken.

Barron says he gets blamed for homelessness and gang activity that Liccardo has not addressed.

"It's all politics," he said. "Why doesn't he come and talk to me and see what we can do the fix the problem?"

Liccardo said he has not met with Barron and has no plans to do so."He's had visits from code enforcement, police officers.  There's nothing more I can say that's going to change his mind that he needs to take action."

The state's ABC has filed formal complaints against the bar. A disciplinary hearing is set for November.

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